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France reducing the size of its Beirut contingent

France said Monday it would reduce its peacekeeping force in Beirut by almost 25 percent by transferring 482 soldiers back to the United Nations force in southern Lebanon.

The French government did not specify whether the troops being pulled out of Beirut would be replaced, but Defense Ministry sources indicated they would not, saying the total number of French soldiers in Lebanon would not change. Officials rejected suggestions that the move amounted to a first step toward a pullout of the French contingent in the four-nation peacekeeping force.

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The announcement coincided with moves by Italy to withdraw some of its troops in Beirut and with mounting pressure on President Reagan to pull out US Marines.

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